Following his vision and his resolve to redeem captives, John discerned a need to receive confirmation of this rather unique calling. An elderly hermit, Felix of Valois, lived in a large forest near Gandelu and John received permission to place himself under this holy man’s tutelage. There, living as a hermit, John prayed and studied under Felix. Five years later, the two men were out walking one cold day when John received a second vision. This time, he saw a stag crossing a stream, with a blue and red cross between its antlers. Amazed at what he had seen, John finally revealed his idea of redeeming slaves to Felix, who immediately offered to help. Setting off without delay in the bitter cold, the two men traveled to Rome for the Pope’s blessing.
Their plan was straightforward: travel to slave markets and buy Christian slaves, then set them free. This required large sums of money, so the first order of business was fundraising. Quickly, a rule was established that one-third of all funds raised would be allocated to the redemption of slaves. Finally, in 1201, eight years after John’s very first vision, the first slaves were redeemed. John himself traveled to the sunny land of Tunisia in 1202 and 1210 to redeem slaves, and his labors resulted in the return of countless Christian slaves. The Trinitarian Order founded by John and Felix is still active today, performing works of mercy on five continents.